Second Vatican Council

What did the Apostle Paul mean about being 'all things to all people'?

What did the Apostle Paul mean about being 'all things to all people'?

JOHN’S QUESTION:

(Paraphrased) Sadly, many American churches cling to buildings, music, and tradition at the expense of reaching others with the Gospel. Was this the issue in the church of Corinth that the Apostle Paul rebukes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Before looking at St. Paul’s 1st Century strategy for planting churches in cities like Corinth, The Religion Guy should say something about the 21st Century. John’s viewpoint is quite surprising. It’s possible that no prior generation has seen so many churches undertake such sweeping efforts to make Christianity appealing to the surrounding secular culture.

Since the Second Vatican Council, many venerable Catholic practices have eroded or disappeared, most notably the use of common languages rather than Latin in worship. In developing nations, churches often supplant a long-sacrosanct European heritage with indigenous practices, not just in worship styles but governance, sometimes allowing polygamy. In the West, some Protestant bodies have downplayed or formally dropped age-old doctrinal and moral tenets.

With U.S. Protestantism, especially for evangelicals, younger congregations will often shun anything that signifies “church” or “tradition” in hopes of luring seekers. Theater seats or sofas replace pews at worship. Gone are robes and collars for clergy or understood dress codes for attendees. Instead of liturgies, choirs, and pipe organs, rock bands perform under spotlights or strobe lights with eardrum-piercing amplifiers. Onscreen words replace hymnals and toted Bibles. Preachers behind Plexiglas pulpits or using roving microphones will void Bible lingo or include skids and videos. Some churches don’t pass offering plates because younger worshippers are so stingy. A few cancel worship services when Christmas falls on Sunday.

Add your own examples.

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Will Catholicism admit women deacons or deaconesses to ranks of ordained clergy?

Will Catholicism admit women deacons or deaconesses to ranks of ordained clergy?

THE QUESTION:

What are the reasons the Catholic Church might, or might not, ordain women in the clerical rank of deacon? (Almost all Q and A topics are posted by our online audience, but The Guy decided to pose this timely question himself.)

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Catholicism’s long-simmering discussion about whether to ordain women into the clerical ranks as “permanent deacons” took a dramatic turn May 12 when Pope Francis said he’ll form a commission to study the issue. His promise came during seemingly off-the-cuff answers to questions during a Rome session with the International Union of Superiors General, whose members lead nearly 500,000 nuns and sisters in religious orders.

Without doubt, female deacons would be a major change. Liberals hope — and conservatives fear — that permitting women to be deacons would be a step toward allowing female priests. However, that’s a distant prospect if not an impossibility considering Pope John Paul II’s absolute prohibition in his 1994 apostolic letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.”

To explain that term “permanent diaconate”: The order of deacons in the early church gradually dwindled over centuries so that eventually ordination as a “deacon” became a mere stepping-stone for men on the path to priesthood. (That usage occurs in Anglican and Episcopal churches. Lutheran deacons, male and female, fill a permanent office, not a temporary one. Baptists use the deacon title for lay members who govern congregations with the pastor.)

Catholicism’s Second Vatican Council (1962-65) restored the “permanent diaconate” as a third, separate and ongoing ministerial order in its own right that is subordinate to priests and bishops. Particularly in North America, which has half the world total, such deacons help ameliorate the shortage of priests.

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Hot-button question: Is the history contained in the New Testament reliable?

Hot-button question: Is the history contained in the New Testament reliable?

NORMAN’S QUESTION:

How can we get people informed about the results of academic biblical scholarship, work that completely undermines the ordinary popular conception of Christianity and faith? Why are Christians not interested in the truth?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

“What is truth?”, Pilate asked Jesus. Or did he? America’s “Jesus Seminar” claimed the Roman tyrant never spoke those famous words and, for that matter, much else in the New Testament never happened either. Norman worries that people aren’t “informed.” Sunday School and CCD may not teach  doubts, but people who don’t know about media promotion of biblical disputes must be living under a rock.

Various degrees of skepticism usually characterize the “higher criticism” conveyed at U.S. colleges. The Jesus Seminar represented the radical wing. Even liberals scoffed at the theatrics when Seminar panelists voted on the authenticity of each verse. The verdict: “82 percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels were not actually spoken by him” while there was a “16 percent historical accuracy rate” for the 176 recorded events in Jesus’ life.

At least Jesus was indeed crucified, the Seminar said. However, two panelists doubted he even existed. They had to discount not only the Gospels but Paul’s letters 20 years after the crucifixion, Roman and Jewish writers (Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, Josephus), and other documents.

Skepticism is nothing new and originated in Europe’s “Enlightenment” era, especially in Germany.

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